Authorities say tanker truck driver was not trying to harm protesters on I-35W bridge in Minneapolis

Gov. Walz said the driver feels lucky that he wasn't killed.
Author:
Publish date:
Screen Shot 2020-05-31 at 5.51.01 PM

The driver of a tanker truck that sped towards thousands of protesters Sunday evening on the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis was not intentionally trying to injure or kill people, according to an update from state leaders on Monday. 

"We have not had any information that makes this seem like this was an intentional act," said John Harrington, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

"We do have some info that he was speeding," explained Harrington. "We do have some info that he saw the crowd and initially he panicked and he just kept barreling forward.

"Then he saw a young woman on a bike fall down in front of him and he slammed on the brakes. And he slid until the vehicle stopped."

Gov. Tim Walz said the driver, 35-year-old Bogdan Vechirko, "feels incredibly lucky that he did not kill someone," adding that even though he was assaulted after stopping the 18-wheeler he "is really lucky Minnesota showed some of their better angels and he did not get killed."

Video from the incident revealed that many peaceful protesters were trying to protect Vechirko before handing him over to police, who arrived on the bridge within minutes. 

Vechirko was treated at a local hospital and then taken into custody and booked into the Hennepin County Jail on Sunday night. It's unclear yet if he'll face any criminal charges. 

Sign up for our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

Harrington said the driver was already on the freeway when MnDOT was rushing to close entrance ramps in a last-minute decision to shut down freeways and highways in and out of Minneapolis and St. Paul due to protesters marching on the interstates. 

"We know that the driver of the tanker truck was on the freeway already. He was on 94 already and he turned onto 35 before we got barricades or trucks there to block off his access to 35. This was his second run of the day. He was running empty, there was no fuel in that tanker truck," said Harrington.

The freeways and highways in and out of Minneapolis and St. Paul were originally planned to be closed at 8 p.m., with the late decision made to shut them down by 5 p.m. to protect protesters on the major arteries. 

Next Up

Screen Shot 2021-01-19 at 12.04.55 PM

Minnesota's COVID vaccine appointment site goes live

Huge demand was expected when the site went live at noon.

emily ford

Duluth woman is hiking 1,000-plus miles on the Ice Age Trail this winter

She could be the second person ever to finish a winter-thru hike of the Wisconsin trail.

coronavirus, covid-19, icu

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Tuesday, January 19

Two days in a row with fewer than 1,000 new cases.

Screen Shot 2021-01-19 at 10.52.12 AM

After fire destroyed their house, couple forced to euthanize beloved dog

The couple's daughter has launched a fundraiser for her parents.

Screen Shot 2021-01-19 at 10.16.14 AM

Investigation after teacher accused of lewd act during distance learning

No charges have been filed yet and the staff member has not been identified.

cook county schools

Investigation after assistant principal displays "joke" Gadsden flag during announcements

"My apologies to anybody who was offended by that part of the snake that was on that comic and it's been taken down."

Forest - orono, Minnesota

Report: Forests, agricultural land could help Minnesota reduce greenhouse gas emissions

The Nature Conservancy's Minnesota chapter released a report that shows how many acres of trees would be needed to help the state reach its reduction goals.

University of Minnesota

U of M will halt admissions to 12 PhD programs

The move is expected to help address the school's estimated budget shortfall of $166 million.

snow, plow

NWS says 'increasing potential for an impactful winter storm' this weekend

Nothing is certain yet. The weather service advises Minnesotans to monitor the forecast.

Mike Lindell, My Pillow CEO.

Under-fire Mike Lindell claims retailers have dropped MyPillow

The MyPillow CEO is seeing receiving backlash as he continues to share conspiracy theories about the election.

Related

Screen Shot 2020-05-31 at 5.51.01 PM

Watch: Tanker truck speeds towards protesters on I-35W bridge

The frightening scene unfolded just before 6 p.m.

Bogdan Vechirko

Tanker truck driver released from custody pending further investigation

Bogdan Vechirko was arrested after the terrifying incident on I-35W Sunday.

Screen Shot 2020-05-31 at 5.48.13 PM

Trucker who drove toward protesters on I-35W bridge charged with felony

The 35-year-old from Otsego is also facing a gross misdemeanor charge.

Screen Shot 2020-05-31 at 5.48.13 PM

Sauk Rapids releases 2 firefighters over offensive comments on protests

Both the firefighters made comments or shared posts suggesting protesters should be killed.

protesters, George Floyd, protest

MN mayor resigns after sharing meme of violence against protestors

The mayor of eight years said his sharing of the meme was taken out of context.

Screen Shot 2020-05-31 at 9.35.56 PM

Police surround protesters, arrest crowd of 150 in Minneapolis

The group was surrounded by a large group of officers.

Screen Shot 2020-05-29 at 9.32.57 PM

George Floyd: Protesters march on I-35W in Minneapolis

The protesters are blocking traffic heading south.